Posted October 28, 2005
I was driving to my office this morning praying the Lord's Prayer.
"Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen." (Matthew 6:9-13)
God began to minister to me about Lydia Prince and Corrie ten Boom's lives: what persecutions they endured, because they obeyed the Father. Lydia was a personal friend of mine. We fellowshipped in her and Derek Prince's home many times. On a few occasions, when Derek would be out of town, my wife and I would take Lydia to eat and then drive around south Florida. One time we were out driving on Interstate 95, and no one was talking. There had been a long period of silence. There was just great peace in our car. Lydia said, "You know what I like about you two? I don't have to entertain you." Those times of fellowship minister to me, even to this day. I would like to quote from the preface written by Derek in Lydia's book, "Appointment in Jerusalem." A schoolteacher at the top of her profession, she left her native Denmark-that clean and lawful land-to travel alone and penniless to a primitive and violent place. The place was Jerusalem; the time, the opening battle of the long war between Jew and Arab that is still going on.
There Lydia endured the rigors of hunger and thirst, the dangers of street fighting and siege. And there she discovered what all of us seek and so few find: joy, peace, perfect security-no matter what the external condition of our lives.
On the back of Lydia's book, "Appointment in Jerusalem," there is a question stated, "Why had God called her to a turbulent land so far from home?" None of us can understand the total purposes of God as He directs our paths. We just have to trust that He will and He is directing us.
I want to thank God for the privilege to have known Lydia, and I thank God for her life.
Although I never knew Corrie ten Boom, I heard her share a personal experience about being unable to forgive a guard at the Ravensbruck concentration camp. She had lost her father and her sister, because her family was willing to smuggle Jews and hide them. The point of this is to forgive. She had been placed in solitary confinement, and as I recall, the only fellowship she had was with an ant. Her faith was greatly tried, and God delivered her. She had returned to the concentration camp to see where she had been imprisoned. There she saw one of the guards. From Corrie's book, "I'm Still Learning to Forgive."
Betsie and I had been arrested for concealing Jews in our home during the Nazi occupation of Holland. This man had been a guard at Ravensbruck concentration camp where we were sent.
Now he was in front of me, hand thrust out: "A fine message, fraulein! How good it is to know that, as you say, all our sins are at the bottom of the sea!"
It was the first time since my release that I had been face to face with one of my captors and my blood seemed to freeze.
"You mentioned Ravensbruck in your talk," he was saying. "I was a guard there. But since that time," he went on, "I have become a Christian. I know that God has forgiven me for the cruel things I did there, but I would like to hear it from your lips as well. Fraulein-" again the hand came out "will you forgive me?"
And I stood there and could not. Betsie had died in that place could he erase her slow terrible death simply for the asking?
It could not have been many seconds that he stood there, hand held out, but to me it seemed hours as I wrestled with the most difficult thing I ever had to do.
For I had to do it I knew that. The message that God forgives has a prior condition: that we forgive those who have injured us. "If you do not forgive men their trespasses," Jesus says, "neither will your Father in Heaven forgive your trespasses."
Still I stood there with the coldness clutching my heart. But forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart. "Jesus, help me!" I prayed silently. "I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling."
And so woodenly, mechanically, I thrust my hand into the one stretched out to me. And as I did, an incredible thing took place. The current started in my shoulder, raced down my arm, sprang into our joined hands. And then this healing warmth seemed to flood my whole being, bringing tears to my eyes.
"I forgive you, brother!" I cried. "With all my heart!"
For a long moment we grasped each others hands, the former guard and former prisoner. I had never known Gods love so intensely as I did then. *
The healing warmth that flooded her whole being was the power of God leading her to repentance. (Romans 2:4)
We need to humble ourselves as Corrie ten Boom did and extend our hands to those that we need to forgive. "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever." (Hebrews 13:8) I pray that these two women's walk with God be an encouragement to you.
God bless you,
*The comments from Corrie ten Boom's book, "I'm Still Learning to Forgive," was taken from the Internet.